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Wow.... My heart goes out to you and the kids as well. This is a heartbreaking situation to say the least and I am so sorry you are suffering so.
I'm sure it won't help much, but I can tell you that you are not the only grandparent in this (or a very similar) situation. Sometimes it brings at least a little relief to know you're not the only one.
Anyway I can say that because I have dealt with literally dozens of similar situations in my years as a School Counselor, Guidance Director, and in private practice. I must tell you that the answer I have for you probably won't be enough to satisfy you, but it will be honest and it will be the best we have in these situations.
Let me first say that it seems that you have done all you can up to this point. Your hands are tied somewhat as you have already experienced. Having said that, here is what you do.... Take measures to make sure the parents don't alienate you - if they already have you must do all you can to get them to "let you back in". This may mean doing things that you hate, such as supporting them emotionally and saying nice things to them even when it makes you nauseous to do so.
You must be the one the kids know is "sane" and you must build relationships with them. Let them know that this is not normal and also... AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT... let them know that it won't always be this way. Be the light at the end of the tunnel. I know it's very tough (boy there's an understatement!) but it can be done. Kids are more resilient than we think - but your role is absolutely KEY if its' anything like the other similar situations I have dealt with over the years.
In the meantime read the book, A Boy Called It if you haven't already done so. It is an autobiography of a man who was severely abused as a boy. He details how he survived and what was going through his mind when he was a kid.
How am I doing so far?
I understand what you are saying and yes I have read" A Boy Called It". I try to stay in an open relationship with my daughter, however as much as she emotionally abuses the children, her husband verbally and emotionally abuses both her and the children. She tries to walk on eggshells to prevent upsetting him and yet she acts like nothing is wrong. I don't think she can face the truth. She will not allow her 13 yr old daughter to go to counseling. My granddaughter has been telling me and asking her mom to let her go to counseling for three years. She, my granddaughter is the major caretaker of the family, so much so that she thinks at some level she is the mother and talks to her own mother as if she is. When she is finally under so much stress she breaks down with me. She says she is so stressed. She between her parents when they are fighting. When I ask her if she wants me to go with he to talk with her mom the answer is no because she is afraid it will make things worse.
My husband and I have been giving the children (4 of them) emotional support and a safe haven because we live only a mile away. When I have tried to talk with my daughter about the kids she says that they know to get to me and the exaggerate things. The 2 older ones like staying with us. At times they have stayed for 2 weeks and we have never heard from the parents.
Are there circumstances when a 13 yr old can see a counselor without a parents permission. Money is not a problem as far as payment to a counselor.
I will wait to hear from you. I really appreciate having someone to explain things to and to get support. Are there groups for grandparents who are in situations like this?